Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

TheStreet Ratings' stock model projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Our Buy, Hold or Sell ratings designate how we expect these stocks to perform against a general benchmark of the equities market and interest rates.

While plenty of high-yield opportunities exist, investors must always consider the safety of their dividend and the total return potential of their investment. It is not uncommon for a struggling company to suspend high-yielding dividends which could subsequently result in precipitous share price declines.

TheStreet Ratings' stock rating model views dividends favorably, but not so much that other factors are disregarded. Our model gauges the relationship between risk and reward in several ways, including: the pricing drawdown as compared to potential profit volatility, i.e. how much one is willing to risk in order to earn profits?; the level of acceptable volatility for highly performing stocks; the current valuation as compared to projected earnings growth; and the financial strength of the underlying company as compared to its stock's valuation as compared to its stock's performance.

These and many more derived observations are then combined, ranked, weighted, and scenario-tested to create a more complete analysis. The result is a systematic and disciplined method of selecting stocks. As always, stock ratings should not be treated as gospel — rather, use them as a starting point for your own research.

The following pages contain our analysis of 3 stocks with substantial yields, that ultimately, we have rated "Buy."

National Retail Properties

Dividend Yield: 4.10%

National Retail Properties (NYSE: NNN) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.10%.

National Retail Properties, Inc. is a publicly owned equity real estate investment trust. The firm acquires, owns, manages, and develops retail properties in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 33.10.

The average volume for National Retail Properties has been 1,224,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. National Retail Properties has a market cap of $5.2 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 5.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates National Retail Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, expanding profit margins, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 0.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 10.9%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The gross profit margin for NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES is rather high; currently it is at 62.12%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 46.57% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES has improved earnings per share by 29.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, NATIONAL RETAIL PROPERTIES increased its bottom line by earning $1.24 versus $1.06 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 0.8% in earnings ($1.23 versus $1.24).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed compared to the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry average, but is greater than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 21.5% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $44.24 million to $53.76 million.

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PacWest Bancorp

Dividend Yield: 4.40%

PacWest Bancorp (NASDAQ: PACW) shares currently have a dividend yield of 4.40%.

PacWest Bancorp operates as the holding company for Pacific Western Bank that provides commercial banking products and services to individuals, professionals, and small to mid-sized businesses in the United States. It accepts demand, money market, and time deposits. The company has a P/E ratio of 23.48.

The average volume for PacWest Bancorp has been 581,500 shares per day over the past 30 days. PacWest Bancorp has a market cap of $4.6 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are up 0.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates PacWest Bancorp as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • PACW's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 4.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 178.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • PACWEST BANCORP reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, PACWEST BANCORP increased its bottom line by earning $1.97 versus $1.08 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.85 versus $1.97).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Commercial Banks industry. The net income increased by 2183.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $3.11 million to $71.00 million.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • The gross profit margin for PACWEST BANCORP is currently very high, coming in at 92.46%. Regardless of PACW's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, PACW's net profit margin of 31.92% compares favorably to the industry average.

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EPR Properties

Dividend Yield: 5.90%

EPR Properties (NYSE: EPR) shares currently have a dividend yield of 5.90%.

EPR Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT), develops, owns, leases, and finances entertainment and related properties in the United States and Canada. Its properties include megaplex theatres, entertainment retail centers, and destination recreational and specialty properties. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.87.

The average volume for EPR Properties has been 333,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. EPR Properties has a market cap of $3.5 billion and is part of the real estate industry. Shares are up 8.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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TheStreet Ratings rates EPR Properties as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 0.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 12.3%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $53.85 million or 17.97% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, EPR PROPERTIES has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -71.43%.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The gross profit margin for EPR PROPERTIES is rather high; currently it is at 69.00%. Regardless of EPR's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, EPR's net profit margin of 43.11% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, EPR PROPERTIES's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.

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